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Nov 14, 2022
Chinatown in Vancouver, A Local’s Guide

Vancouver neighbourhood guides

Chinatown is a vibrant and culturally rich neighbourhood in Vancouver that is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. With its narrow streets, delicious food, and fascinating architecture, Chinatown is a true cultural gem. If you’re looking for some tips on how to explore Chinatown like a local, look no further than the HighStreet guide to Chinatown.

Chinatown Vancouver – an overview

Chinatown is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Vancouver and is located in the heart of Downtown Eastside. It is one of the most important tourist destinations in the city, with its Dragon Gate entrance, plethora of shops and restaurants, and architectural and historical significance. Chinatown is a vibrant community that has played an important role in Vancouver’s history and development.

The history of Chinatown

The first Chinese immigrants to Vancouver arrived in the 1860s, and many of them settled in what is now known as Chinatown. In 1871, a group of Chinese merchants established the city’s first Chinatown on Dupont Street (now Pender Street). The area quickly became a thriving community, and by the 1880s it was home to one of the largest Chinese populations in North America.

The early Chinatown was a close-knit community, and its residents were largely self-sufficient. They operated businesses, restaurants, and social clubs, and they also raised families there. Over time, however, Chinatown began to decline. By the 1920s, many of its residents had left for other parts of the city or country.

In the 1970s, a new generation of Chinese immigrants began moving into Chinatown, and they helped to revive the neighbourhood. They opened new businesses and restored some of the old ones. Today, Chinatown is a vibrant community with a rich cultural heritage.

Chinatown today – what to see and do

Chinatown Vancouver is one of the oldest Chinatowns in North America, and is full of history and culture. Here is a list of things to see and do when you visit:

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden which is a beautiful garden that was built in 1985. It was created in the style of traditional Ming Dynasty gardens, and features a lake, pavilions, and a Dragon Wall.

The Vancouver Chinatown Millennium Gate

The Vancouver Chinatown Millennium Gate is a beautiful gate that was built in 1999 to commemorate the new millennium. It features two giant statues of lions guarding either side of the gate.

The Chinese Cultural Centre

The Chinese Cultural Centre is a large cultural centre that features a museum, art gallery, performance hall, and more. It is a great place to learn about Chinese culture.


The Gastown district, although not located in Chinatown is situation just north of it. It’s home to a variety of trendy restaurants and shops. It’s a great place to explore after spending time in Chinatown. Try one of the many excellent restaurants or enjoy some of the city’s best nightlife in Gastown.

How to explore Chinatown Vancouver like a local

Chinatown in Vancouver is a bustling and vibrant area, full of culture and secret spots that locals know about. Explore Vancouver’s Chinatown like a local. Here are some tips:

  1. Start by walking along Pender Street. This is the main street in Chinatown and is home to many shops, restaurants, and markets.
  2. Check out the Vancouver Chinatown Night Market. This market is open every Friday and Saturday night and is a great place to sample some of the best food that Chinatown has to offer.
  3. Wander down some of the side streets off of Pender Street. These streets are home to some of the best hidden restaurants and shops in Chinatown.
  4. Take a break in one of the many parks or gardens in Chinatown. These spaces are perfect for relaxing and taking in the sights and sounds of Vancouver’s Chinatown.

Restaurants and shops in Chinatown Vancouver

Chinatown in Vancouver is a great place to find authentic Chinese food. Some of the best restaurants in Chinatown are located in Shanghai Alley. Try out New Town restaurant for traditional Chinese food, Chinatown BBQ for (you guessed it), Chinese BBQ, or visit the Chinatown Night Market.

For shopping, the New Trend Trading Company is known for its wide selection of souvenirs and trinkets, and it’s a great place to find unique gifts for friends and family.

Along Pender street you’ll find a wide variety of traditional Chinese herbs, medicines, and teas. They’re perfect for anyone who wants to improve their health or learn more about traditional Chinese medicine.

Finally, no trip to Chinatown is complete without a visit to one of the local grocery stores. These stores offer an amazing selection of fresh produce, meat, and seafood, all at bargain prices. So if you’re looking to save money on your groceries, be sure to check out one of the Chinatown grocery stores.

Tips for visitors

When visiting Chinatown in Vancouver, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Chinatown is a vibrant and busy area, so be prepared for a lot of noise and activity. If you’re interested in a calm environment head to the gardens. Throughout the streets there is lots of action.
  2. Come hungry! There is a lot of great food to be sampled throughout Chinatown, so don’t visit on a full stomach or you’ll miss out on some of the highlights.
  3. Following up on #1 above, be sure to visit some of the parks and gardens in Chinatown. It’s a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle and a perfect compliment to a busy day in Chinatown.
  4. Get lost. Take time to wander the streets and get a feel for the entire Chinatown area. Avoid East Hastings just outside Chinatown, but other than that enjoy all the area has to offer.
  5. Don’t forget to visit one of the local grocery stores for some amazing bargains on fresh produce and seafood. It’s a unique experience and a change from other supermarkets stores in Vancouver.


Chinatown in Vancouver is a bustling and vibrant community that offers a unique cultural experience for visitors. There are plenty of things to do and see in Chinatown, from sampling delicious food at the local restaurants to browsing through the eclectic mix of shops and grocery stores. If you’re looking to explore Chinatown like a local, walk around and take your time getting lost in the winding streets, visit the markets, and stop by one of the many temples or churches.

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